Tag Archives: Preservation Virginia

Descendants’ Day

On Saturday, Preservation Virginia, the organization that owns Bacon’s Castle, hosted “Descendants’ Day” there at the property. 58 of us whose ancestors had either owned the Castle, lived there or worked there attended.

Descendants of the Allen family were there (Arthur Allen built Bacon’s Castle, known then as Allen’s Brick House, in 1665. It was passed down through several generations of Allens).

I also saw name tags of Bacon family members (Nathaniel Bacon was most likely never at Bacon’s Castle, but his followers briefly took over the property and used it as a fortress during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676. Following that, the house was known as Bacon’s Castle.)

I met members of the Hankins family (who owned the house during the Civil War era).

Although I didn’t meet them,  I’m sure other families were represented.  But, to my knowledge, I was the only Warren family descendant that attended. (William Allen Warren, an ancestor of my maternal grandmother, bought Bacon’s Castle in 1880, and was the first of three generations of Warrens to own the property.)

Staff members from Preservation Virginia were there to greet us, give tours, answer questions and help with genealogical research.

We were asked to bring old family photos, so, with Motor Man’s help, I put together this collage.

My display was set up in one of the upstairs rooms. There, I met Mr. Johnson, who was very interested in my photos and actually remembered my grandparents. He is a quiet, humble man who told me that, as a young child, he lived in a house there on the property.  We were looking out of one of the windows in the direction of that house when he softly said: “I sure would like to have a picture of that.” So I went to Will, one of the staff members that I’d been speaking with earlier, and mentioned it to him. He immediately asked Mr. Johnson for his address and promised to send him a photo.

A short time later, Motor Man and I caught up with Mr. Johnson on the porch of the house he lived in many years ago. This house was originally used as slave quarters, and funding is now in place for it to be renovated.

Before the event ended, we gathered for a group photo. I’m third from the right in the picture, standing behind the railing. And yes, that’s my buddy, Mr. Johnson, standing beside me.

Of course, since Motor Man and I were married at Bacon’s Castle, we never pass up the opportunity to have our picture taken there.

It was a very nice event, one that I was honored to attend.  As I mentioned to someone, I’m always ready to talk about the Castle.

I’m sure our ancestors would have been pleased that we gathered to remember them at this very special place that connects us all.

~These Days Of Mine~

 

 

 

 

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Friday’s Fences: Smith’s Fort Plantation

For the first 22 years of my life, I lived in Surry County (Virginia), which neighbors Isle of Wight County, where I currently live. Near the town of Surry lies property now known as Smith’s Fort Plantation.

This land was once owned by the Indian Chief Powhatan. For those of you who never studied Virginia history, his name may not be familiar, but I bet you’ve heard of his daughter, Pocahontas. When Pocahontas married John Rolfe, her father, Powhatan, gave him the property as a dowry. It was later inherited by their son, Thomas.

Thomas Rolfe sold the land to Thomas Warren, who built a house there around 1651. The house that now sits on that property was built after 1750.

Smith’s Fort Plantation House

The property was formerly known as The Rolfe House and The Rolfe-Warren House.  Captain John Smith began work on a fort on that site around 1609 to protect nearby Jamestown from possible attack, thus the current name of Smith’s Fort.

Smith’s Fort Plantation is now owned by Preservation Virginia, the same organization that owns my beloved Bacon’s Castle. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time, you know that a cousin of my maternal grandmother owned Bacon’s Castle, and that my Mother and her family lived there from around 1920-1940. (For my new followers, click on the Bacon’s Castle category to read previous posts.)

Smith’s Fort Plantation House from the back

But my family also has a connection to Smith’s Fort.  The Thomas Warren who purchased the land and built the first house there? He was my eighth great-grandfather.

gate smiths fort

Smith’s Fort Plantation Herb Garden

When Marshall learned a few years ago that his ancestor purchased land from the son of Pocahontas, he was astounded.  “Son, you have deep roots”.

Linking up to Friday’s Fences.

fridays fences

Tea At The Castle

Saturday provided yet another opportunity for me to visit Bacon’s Castle.   Preservation Virginia (the organization that owns the property) and The Regency Society of Virginia hosted a tea. And although I live in jeans, I decided it might be fun to dress up for a change.

“Tea at the Castle” has a nice ring, don’t you think?

Some of you may recall this room from previous posts.  The tea was held in the “Ladies’ Chamber”, which is a very special room to me: it’s where Motor Man and I were married. I was seated at this table…

table

…which had been placed in the exact spot where we took our vows.

On the menu: a salad of mini baby greens, creamy mini asparagus soup, tea sandwiches (cucumber, egg salad), tea cakes and scones.

Michelle Darnell met me at the Castle. She and her husband will be opening a Bed and Breakfast this spring at historic Belle Grove Plantation near Fredericksburg, Virginia. Michelle, seated beside me in this photo, has a passion for Belle Grove, similar to the one I have for the Castle. To read Michelle’s post about the Bacon’s Castle Tea, click here.

photo by The Regency Society of Virgnia

photo by The Regency Society of Virgnia

Following tea, we were taken on a tour of the Castle. During the tour, I met Jennifer, who’s in training to be one of the interpreters when Bacon’s Castle opens for the season next week. We discovered that my maternal grandmother was her great grandfather’s “step-aunt”.

Which proves that we Virginia gals not only know how to enjoy tea; we also know our roots.

bc

With All Due Respect…

My grandparents raised twelve children, including my mom, at Bacon’s Castle during the 1920’s and 1930’s.  One of the twelve was born there, one was married there.  One accidentally shot off the tip of his finger at Bacon’s Castle. Another lost the vision in one of his eyes after falling on a cotton stalk.

They endured countless illnesses, they worked hard and they played hard. And they loved each other through it all.

My family represents just a few of the people who made their home in that beautiful house in its nearly 350 year history.

I know these things are true:

1.) Tourism in our area, as in many others, has been dealt a hard blow by the economy.

2.) A 300+ year old house requires a lot of maintenance, which, in turn, requires a lot of money.

3.) Preservation Virginia, the owners of Bacon’s Castle, are exhausting every means to keep the house open to the public and in good repair.

But.

This saddens me.

This is a current article in our local weekly paper.  The article is continued on another page and states that the “spirit hunters” used dousing rods in their search. They also used a flashlight method, where the head of the flashlight is unscrewed, and the switch is placed in the “on” position, so there’s just a slight connection. The flashlight glows, which “allows the spirit to manipulate the light more easily and use it to answer questions”.

In my Christian heart, I believe that, upon one’s death, the spirit doesn’t remain here on earth. That being said, I also believe that unexplainable things happen. And although I’ve never witnessed anything like that, I was with Marshall one day at Bacon’s Castle when he did. I wrote about it here.

But allowing people (albeit people who paid an admission fee, which benefits Preservation Virginia) inside Bacon’s Castle to search for spirits seems disrespectful and insulting to all those dear folks who have called that place home through the years. And, to me,  it degrades the dignity of the structure itself.

Every time I step foot on Bacon’s Castle soil, I sense the presence of my grandparents, my aunts, uncles and my Mom.

With not a dousing rod nor flashlight in sight.

My Family At Bacon’s Castle

Due to popular demand (from a couple of my readers), today’s post is about how my Mom and her family came to live in Bacon’s Castle in the 1920’s and 1930’s.

First, a little history about the house.  Everyone from the little town of Bacon’s Castle refers to Bacon’s Castle (the house) as “The Castle House”. It was built by an Englishman, Arthur Allen, in 1665. It’s not known how he came to be wealthy enough to build such an elaborate house in the Virginia countryside at that time.

It was originally referred to as “Allen’s Brick House”, but since being briefly overtaken by supporters of Nathaniel Bacon and used as a fortress during Bacon’s Rebellion in 1676, it has been known as Bacon’s Castle.  Bacon, most likely, was never even on the property.

The house was owned by relatively few families through the years. The Warren family owned it for three generations, beginning in 1876.  They were related to my maternal grandmother, who was also a Warren.

The Warren family was one of the wealthiest in our area. My granddad, on the other hand, was a sharecropper. He and my grandma were parents to eleven children at the time he was asked by the Warrens to farm the land at Bacon’s Castle.

Prior to moving into the Castle House, my mom and her family had moved many times. She told me that Grandaddy was a good farmer, and other landowners were constantly making better offers to attempt to lure him to farm their land.

Once they moved into Bacon’s Castle, they remained there for nearly twenty years. Their youngest child, Sarah, was born in the Castle House. Aunt Sarah passed away two years ago, but she was always proud to have been born in that historic house.

Aunt Sarah’s future husband, Bill, during World War II

During the time my family lived there, the front of the house sported a double-decker wooden front porch. My mom said there was no door to the porch from the second story, but the children would climb through a window and sleep out on the porch during the summer.  This photo has been in our family for years, but I’m not sure of its origin. The 1665 portion of the house really isn’t visible in this picture; it’s hidden from view by the huge tree on the left.

And here’s my Aunt Lucille in front of the house, sitting in an Adirondack chair, most likely made by my daddy. (Aunt Lucille was always a snappy dresser.)

I’ve always loved this picture of my Mom and Grandma with my sisters. Maybe they were enjoying watermelon on a hot summer day?

I’m sure I was probably told why the family moved from the Castle House after all those years, but I don’t recall the reason. And sadly, I don’t think there’s anyone left that I can ask.

There’s much more family history relating to the Castle House, and I may share some of that from time to time. What I’m unable to put into words is the feeling that comes over me when I step foot on the land there. It’s a feeling that’s shared by my son, my sister, my nieces, and most likely, many of my cousins.  Even though none of us actually lived in the Castle House, the presence there of our family is so very strong.

I think the word that comes closest to describing it is….home.

fog over the Castle farmland (photo taken by Marshall)

Bacon’s Castle has been owned by Preservation Virginia since 1973, following the death of W.P. Warren. It is temporarily closed to the public.

Update: Bacon’s Castle is once again open to the public; hours are seasonal.